As part of its commitment to ensuring the safety of individuals during nighttime activities, Sussex Police has introduced a cutting-edge drone to its arsenal. Equipped with a high-resolution thermal imaging camera, powerful spotlights, and a speaker system, this drone was recently launched in Brighton following a successful trial run in West Sussex during the summer.
Its primary operational focus will be the beach area on Friday and Saturday nights, where it will assist in identifying vulnerable individuals, detecting criminal activities, and gathering crucial evidence when needed. The drone provides an invaluable aerial perspective, granting access to typically challenging or remote locations like the beach, which are not easily visible to officers on the ground.
This sophisticated device is operated by two trained drone operators who maintain communication with other officers on the ground, ensuring a swift response to any incidents observed by the drone’s camera.
Superintendent Adele Tucknott, Sussex Police’s lead for addressing violence against women and girls, emphasized the importance of enhancing public safety. She stated, “Ensuring everyone’s safety during a night out is our top priority, and this drone is an additional resource at our disposal as we safeguard the public. It serves as an extra set of eyes in the sky, offering an entirely new perspective on usually hard-to-reach areas, such as the beach, which ground officers may find challenging to monitor. Our primary objective is to prevent crime by identifying vulnerable individuals and criminal behavior, ultimately safeguarding people from harm.”
The drone has already proven its effectiveness in West Sussex, aiding in ongoing incident monitoring and assisting in locating individuals of interest in areas such as Bognor Regis, Worthing, Crawley, and Horsham.
In Brighton, the drone complements existing safety measures established through collaborative efforts between Sussex Police and its partners. These measures include increased high-visibility patrols, Night Safety Marshals to assist vulnerable individuals, taxi marshals to ensure safe journeys home, street pastors offering support to those in need, Beach Patrol for coastal vulnerability surveillance, a Safe Space on West Street, and various additional security provisions in licensed venues.
Additionally, the city has introduced digital screens guiding individuals toward support services, such as the “Ask for Angela” initiative and the Safe Spaces app, which directs people to nearby businesses where they can seek assistance.
Superintendent Tucknott added: “This should send a clear message to people wishing to prey on vulnerable people in Sussex that it will not be tolerated and we will do everything in our power to bring you to justice.
“Sussex is a safe place to live and visit, but if you do fall victim to a crime please report it to us online, via 101 or dial 999 in an emergency. You will be heard, believed and supported.”
The drone is funded via Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, who visited a nightclub in Brighton on Tuesday (26 September) to distribute anti-spiking equipment.
Katy said: “Brighton has long been renowned for its pubs and clubs and, with a thriving night-time economy, the city fills up every evening with visitors and students. Sussex Police maintains an excellent relationship with local venues and officers work closely with the city council, taxi firms and the rail and bus services to ensure that people can enjoy their night out and get home safely.
“My office has secured £300,000 for safety initiatives to make Brighton a safer place, including support for taxi marshals and additional police patrols.
“Sadly, predators and opportunists will seek to take advantage of the parks and dark shoreline. That’s why I was pleased to see that police are now able to deploy a drone providing vital eyes in the sky to support officers on the ground and to quickly spot vulnerable people.
“For many young people starting their studies this autumn, fresher’s week traditionally involves lots of clubbing and late nights out. I was delighted to meet with Rox Promotions at The Arch nightclub on the seafront this week to provide them with a year’s supply of Stop Topps.
“The popular anti-spiking drink covers will be distributed amongst their venues in the city and will help to prevent drink spiking, showing that venues take safety seriously.”